Penn Announces First Ivy League Bachelor’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence

According to Penn, the bachelor of science in engineering in artificial intelligence will be one of the first AI undergraduate engineering programs in the country, and the first of its kind at an Ivy League university.
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Published on February 15, 2024
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  • The University of Pennsylvania will offer an undergraduate degree in artificial intelligence this fall.
  • The degree is the first of its kind at an Ivy League university, according to the school.
  • The program will focus on developing responsible and ethical AI tools.

The University of Pennsylvania has unveiled its newest degree offering: a bachelor of science in engineering in artificial intelligence (AI), the first degree of its kind at an Ivy League institution, according to the school.

The Raj and Neera Singh Program in Artificial Intelligence will open in fall 2024 and will focus on preparing students to develop responsible AI tools that will benefit society.

Raj and Neera Singh donated the funds necessary to create the new program, including leadership, faculty, and program infrastructure.

"Penn Engineering has long been a pioneer in computing and education, with ENIAC, the first digital computer, and the first Ph.D. in computer science," Raj Singh said in a press release. "This proud legacy of innovation continues with Penn Engineering's AI program, which will produce engineers that can leverage this powerful technology in a way that benefits all humankind."

The coursework will include topics such as machine learning, computing algorithms, data analytics, and advanced robotics. The program will be led by George J. Pappas, a professor of transportation at Penn Engineering.

"Realizing the potential of AI for positive social impact stands as one of the paramount challenges confronting engineering," Pappas said in the release. "We are excited to introduce a cutting-edge curriculum poised to train our students as leaders and innovators in the ongoing AI revolution."

Enrolled students will take classes in mathematics, computing, and AI. They will also have the option to choose a concentration, ranging from robotics to machine learning, vision/language, data/society, and health/systems.

"Our carefully selected curriculum reflects the reality that AI has come into its own as an academic discipline, not only because of the many amazing things it can do, but also because we think it’s important to address fundamental questions about the nature of intelligence and learning, how to align AI with our social values, and how to build trustworthy AI systems," Zachary Ives, chair of the department of computer and information science, said in the release.

New Frontier in Higher Education

Many colleges and universities remain divided on how to tackle the possibilities of AI. Many institutions announced AI-focused programs including the University of Southern California and Purdue University. Arizona State University recently announced its partnership with OpenAI, giving the university access to the company's AI capabilities including ChatGPT Enterprise.

A 2023 BestColleges survey of 1,000 current undergraduate and graduate students found that 43% of college students have used ChatGPT or a similar AI application, and 61% think AI tools like ChatGPT will become the new normal. Of those who have used AI tools, 50% said they have used them to help complete assignments or exams.

AI is also an important topic of study for students pursuing a master of business administration (MBA) degree, BestColleges previously reported. Business schools have responded in the last year, integrating AI technology into their curriculum.

Beyond the classroom, AI technology is also poised to impact college admissions, student retention strategies, and administrative efficiency.